I remember being a child and perusing through the advertisement section of magazines in search of free mail order items such as stamps, free catalogs and the like. I loved getting things in the mail. I also loved getting letters. One afternoon, I came across an ad stating you could send in your name and get a penpal assigned to you. I sent my name in and went through several penpals over the years. It was always a joy to get a letters addressed to me in the mail. Something about that made me feel special. It was hard to keep these penpals over the years because we would find we had little in common. But, I did develop friends across the country I wrote to in high school and the pleasure of receiving a handwritten letter in the mail has never escaped me. I even carried on this tradition with my daughter as she was growing in a few rare instances in which we spent time in other states.
I am glad I shared this experience with my daughter. She still treasures all of the cards and letters I sent her over the years, keeping them in several boxes. But, I fear many children my daughter’s age, don’t realize what it means to have someone handwrite a letter to them – not in the age of the Internet. But, there is a new project I came across in the past year, I think is bringing back the great art and pleasure of letter writing.
Lettrs is a site and project designed for the curation of letters – old letters, letters you write on line and even letters you can create for the future. It’s most interesting aspect is that it is a place for curation of old letters. That is, you can scan paper letters and upload them for online viewing. For example, there is a letter written by Elvis to President Nixon you can read in the King’s own handwriting. There’s a letter from Neil Armstrong written in 1969. There is a Red Cross Letter from WW2 to a soldier who had been taken prisoner.And even a letter from the Titanic†dated April 11th of 1912 – four days before it sank.
I have registered on the site and spent a good deal of time perusing the holdings and what the site has to offer. It is truly an amazing compilation of history. The site allows you to keep a virtual shoebox or fridge in which you can display or keep letters from your own past or letters you choose to compose online using the tools made available via the site. You can compose a letter, use different fonts, design the stationary and preserve it for as long as you wish. Or you can deliver your letters via the site or connect to others with like interests.
The site states:
Our goal is to connect everyone in the world through more meaningful communication…through letters. We think that a letter, inspired by both digital and physical events, can reveal a common link between people. With a surprising amount of hand written “old letters” being uploaded every day and “new letters” being created on the Writing Desk in return, lettrs hopes to connect people all over the world based on the desire to perhaps communicate less but say much more.
I think the most enjoyable aspect of the site is simply browsing through the history. It’s a time thief in many respects, but when you come across letters from presidents, soldiers and entertainers, it is like being able to peek into the past.